Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The old home place

My father and grandfather took me today to see the barn that was built by my great great grandfather Samuel Keim. He built it in 1899 after the big tornado destroyed his property in Carol County, IL. It hasn't been used in at least 20 years but they wanted to take me up in the hay loft to see the old construction. The original beams and framing are reused from the barn that blew down in in 1898. Wood pegs and square nails are the norm. Many of the beams are 8 inches by 8 inches and many of the wall boards and floor boards are solid pine as wide as 18-20 inches. My father told me that you could have played basketball or roller skated up there back in the day and I believe it. It seems to be all pine or larch construction and the pins are 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick driven through the beams. We took a couple of souveniers: a hay bale hook that was likely used by many men in my family and a pine board 16 inches wide, three feet long and one inch thick. I imagine I will run it through the thickness sander and see if its useful for anything!

Check out the posts where they wrapped extra pieces of bailing wire over the years. It is likey 70 years of bailing wire saved "just in case."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Black Jack Daisy

Kids Concert!

My wife Nicole had a concert with her elementary school kids tonight. Her drumming ensemble played 3 songs and then her choir sang 7 songs. I ran the sound which I always do for her concerts when I am not on the road. The big hit was "The Reindeer Prom," which included a dancing cameo by the other teachers! My favorite part is that 5 girls wore the same dress and 3 other girls wore another!

Here is a picture!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Concert Ukulele On Ebay

I just posted a new uke I built on ebay. Check out the curvy shape and vintage red stain. Papa likes! Spruce top, mahogany back and sides, walnut fingerboard and bridge. It is light enough to project well but sturdy enough for a nice tone. I used two fan braces on the top.

Check it out here!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

My New Reso Uke on the way!

Check out my new reso that is on the way from Gordon and Char from Myamoe!


Even though I build my own ukes, I still am a player and collector at heart. I also have ukes made by Mike DaSilva, Marc Schoenberger and Myamoe!

I asked for all domestic woods, peghed tuners and a concert sized body. They had never made a concert reso, but were interested in giving it a whirl! I will make a video when it comes in the mail this week!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Denver Uke Fest!

Hey Everybody- Check out this cool video from last year's Denver Ukulele Festival.

Also, you can click here to learn more about this year's event on Feb 6th.


Monday, December 7, 2009

My new Tiple

Well, I got my tiple strung up and its pretty cool. Instead of going with the Martin design, I chose to do this instead:
-Slightly smaller tenor size body but with full Tiple body depth.
-Scale length is one fret between concert and tenor, with the body joining at 13th fret.
-Fan braced straight grain pine top
-cherry sides and walnut back (scraps from the shop)
-Two piece mahogany neck with walnut veneer under ebony fingerboard.
-Mandolin style bridge and tailpiece

A tiple is basically a steel string ukulele with 10 strings. It sort of sounds like a mixture between a uke and a 12 string guitar.

The sound is full and has lots of overtones. Even with really low action and perfect frets it is still pretty hard to play though. I plan on letting it sit around under tension to see if it explodes before I put a few more coats of finish on it. I did epoxy the neck on, so I feel pretty good about that joint. I am interested in seeingif it is over or under braced!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


As many of you know, we added Neil McCormick to Boulder Acoustic Society on upright bass. That means that I have switched over to guitar/5 string banjo/lap steel/ukulele. Here is a picture of my fingerpick "rig" - two alaska picks duct taped to my fingers and a national thumb pick. I use it for all these instruments unless I am playing "clawhammer" style. I have to tape them on because I do a lot of down strokes as well as up strokes and regular finger picking. Long story short, the alaska picks often go flying off when "rocking out" so I tape them on. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Xmas Recording Session

Our friend and graphic designer Greg Carr is putting together an xmas cd again this year and he asked me to put together a tune for it. I worked up a little cowboy style waltz of Silent Night. I tracked ukulele (a mahogany soprano I built), slide guitar (1930's Oahu Jumbo tuned to open C) and harmonica. Turns out I suck at harmonica worse than I ever imagined.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Koa Tenor

The tenor for my friend in Belgium is a little farther along. It has a smaller body shape than most tenors, but it is deeper than normal. I have a 17inch scaled neck that will join at the 14th fret. It is loud, deep and thumpy when you tap the top. I can't wait to get it strung up and see how it sounds. I plan on making a tiple in December from the same size and shape!

Fruit Turkey

This is a turkey made of fruit. It was created by my wife Nicole. It was festive.

Paid to Busk

Scott Aller (from BAS) runs an entertainment consulting firm called 5280 Live. He got some old pianos painted by local artists and placed them all around downtown Denver for anyone to play. Tonight he paid local musicians to play them during the tree lighting ceremony. Here is me, Scott McCormick and Chris McGarry playing some tunes. Our piano was painted by our friend Laurie Maves.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tenor Beansprout On the Bench

Here is a tenor Beansprout after its third coat of finish. I used to use an oil finish, but I switched this summer to a wipe on poly. Its really easy to use and looks less handmade then then the oil. It builds up pretty well and dries fast in our low humidity Colorado air. It also is cheap, easy and less toxic than spraying. It isn't as glossy and plastic as a factory finish, but I love it.

Some Koa in the Shop!

Here are two pics of some Koa ukes I am working on. One is a Kumalae shaped concert uke with walnut fingerboard and mahogany neck. It is for a gentleman from Carbondale, CO. The second is a tenor uke with mahogany neck and ebony board for Jaynickel from Belgium. He won the Bosco and Honey Safari contest, I hope he takes this uke with him!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BAS with Victoria Vox!

Last month we did a week on the road with Victoria Vox. We love her and she loves us. We love each other, really. She is coming to Denver next month so we can play on her new cd! Here we are playing together in LA:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hawaiian Style Soprano On Its Way To Germany!

I just sold a Kumalae shaped soprano to a fellow in Germany. It is made of all mahogany with rosewood fingerboard and old style rosewood pegs. It is the lightest uke I have ever made and sounds great! Check it out:

Two Chord Songbook

Scott and I put together a book of our favorite three chord songs. It is made by hand on recycled paper and has the chords and words to a bunch songs that only use two chords. Check out this video about it:

You can paypal $7 to aaronckeim@gmail.com to get one.

Starting up the Blog!

Hey everyone- My name is Aaron Keim and I pretty much do 3 things: tour and play guitar/banjo/lap steel/ukulele with Boulder Acoustic Society,

Build musical instruments under the name Beansprout
and hang out with my wife Nicole.

I also play the upright bass, teach music lessons, love vintage cocktails and collect old western wear! This blog will mostly be about the instruments I build and the places I go. Enjoy!